Eric Ambler

Novelist, Screenwriter, Actor
Thriller novelist Eric Ambler, often credited with elevating the spy genre to the level of esteemed literature, was introduced into the film business while serving in World War II. He worked with luminaries such as ... Read more »
Born: 06/27/1909 in London, England, GB

Filmography

Writer (21)

Journey Into Fear 1975 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

Love, Hate, Love 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Screenplay

Topkapi 1964 (Movie)

("The Light of Day") (Source Material (from novel))

A Night to Remember 1958 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Suspicion 1957 - 1958 (TV Show)

Writer

The Wreck of the Mary Deare 1958 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Purple Plain 1955 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Lease of Life 1953 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Promoter 1952 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Mask of Dimitrios 1944 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

Background to Danger (Movie)

(Book Author)

Checkmate (TV Show)

Creator

Encore (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Highly Dangerous (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

Journey into Fear (Movie)

(Book Author)

The Clouded Yellow (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Cruel Sea (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The October Man (Movie)

(Book Author)

The October Man (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Way Ahead (Movie)

(Book Author)

The Way Ahead (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Producer (2)

Alcoa Premiere 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)

Producer

The October Man (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Thriller novelist Eric Ambler, often credited with elevating the spy genre to the level of esteemed literature, was introduced into the film business while serving in World War II. He worked with luminaries such as Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov in the Royal Army Film Unit, producing propaganda movies like "The Way Ahead" (1944). Before he turned scriptwriter, the author's fiction was brought to the screen in film adaptations of his novels including "Journey Into Fear" (1942) and "Hotel Reserve" (1944). Also in 1944, Peter Lorre starred in "The Mask of Demetrios", a thriller based on Ambler's 1939 novel "A Coffin for Demetrios". Both the film and the novel enjoyed popularity and acclaim, and Ambler's Balkan set story has even been called prophetic, as the novel mirrors the political upheaval in the area that occurred decades later.<p>After leaving the military in 1946 with a lieutenant-colonel rank and a US Bronze Star, the former advertising copywriter joined J Arthur Rank in London as a producer and screenwriter. His screen credits included "The Clouded Yellow" (1950), "The Promoter" (1952), and "The Purple Plain" (1954). Ambler was nominated for an Academy Award for his script "The Cruel Sea", a 1953 film starring Stanley Baker and Denholm Elliot, adapted from a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. He moved into disaster dramas, writing the screenplays for "A Night to Remember" (1958), the British adaptation of Walter Lord's popular Titanic chronicle, and "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" (1959), starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston.<p>While writing screenplays, Ambler continued to work on novels, putting out over a dozen more during and after his foray into film. Another of his visions hit the big screen in 1964, when "Topkapi", an adaptation of his 1962 novel "The Light of Day" was released, starring former war buddy Peter Ustinov. That novel also earned him the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award in 1964. Besides his successful work in film and literature, the prolific author also ventured into television, most notably as a writer on the legendary "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS 1955-60, 1962-64; NBC 1960-62, 1964-65). He was also involved in Hitchcock's later suspense anthology program "Suspicion", aired on NBC during the 1957-58 season while "Checkmate" (CBS, 1960-62) was an Ambler-created detective series. Additionally. he was the producer of the ABC anthology series "Alcoa Premiere" (1961-1963), hosted by Fred Astaire. In 1981, Ambler published his last novel "The Care of Time" and four years later issued his autobiography "Here Lies Eric Ambler".

Relationships

Amy Madeline Ambler

Mother

Alfred Ambler

Father

Louise Crombie

Wife
married in 1939 divorced in May 1958

Joan Harrison

Wife
former assistant to Alfred Hitchcock second wife married from 1958 until her death in 1994

EDUCATION

University of London

dropped out in 1927

Colfe's Grammar School

Milestones

1985

Issued autobiography "Here Lies"

1981

Created Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II

1981

Published last novel "The Care of Time"

1964

"Topkapi", an adaptation of his novel "The Light of Day", was released as a film starring Peter Ustinov and Maximillian Schell

1959

Had screenplay credit in the adaptation of the adventure "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston

1958

Wrote the screenplay for "A Night to Remember", a British adaptation of Walter Lord's popular book chronicling the Titanic disaster

1954

Was screenwriter for "The Purple Plain", a World War II psychodrama starring Gregory Peck

1953

Nominated for an Academy Award for his script "The Cruel Sea", a film starring Stanley Baker and Denholm Elliott

1952

Wrote the screenplay for "The Promoter", a drama starring Alec Guinness and Glynis Johns

1951

Published first novel under own name, "Judgment on Deltchev"

1950

With Janet Green co-wrote the screenplay for "The Clouded Yellow", a thriller starring Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons

1950

Collaborated with Australian author Charles Rodda on thrillers that were published under joint pseudonym of Eliot Reed

1946

Left the military, ranked lieutenant-colonel and awarded a US Bronze Star, and joined J Arthur Rank as producer and screenwriter

1943

James Mason starred in the film "Hotel Reserve", a thriller based on Ambler's novel of the same name; Peter Lorre starred in "The Mask of Dimitrios" based upon his novel "A Coffin for Dimitrios"

1941

His novel "Journey Into Fear" was adapted into a film produced by and starring Orson Welles

"Checkmate", a detective series created by Ambler, aired on CBS

Raised in London

Produced the drama anthology series "Alcoa Premiere" hosted by Fred Astaire and featuring star-studded casts

After dropping out of college, worked for an electrical-engineering company and later as an advertising copywriter

Writer for "Suspicion", an Alfred Hitchcock produced suspense anthology program aired on NBC

Joined the Royal Artillery during World War II; was later drafted into the Army Film Unit where he worked with Thorold Dickenson, Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov

Writer for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"(CBS, NBC)

Bonus Trivia

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"Virtually single-handedly, he redefined the thriller so as to make possible the achievement of such postwar realists as John le Carre and Len Deighton." --critic Peter Lewis in 1990

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"Dorothy Sayers had taken the detective story and made it literate. Why shouldn't I do the same with spies?" --Eric Ambler

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"As I saw it, the thriller had nowhere to go but up. I set out to start the upward trend." --Ambler writing in his 1985 autobiography "Here Lies"

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